I read.. a lot! And I read on many topics both online and off. Let me start by asking you a question; How many times do you read something online and there is a link within the content? I'm guessing a lot. And this is where the trouble begins. And it hurts me and you as the readers and the website for this messy mistake that is often made.
What am I talking about?
The link takes you away from the page you were reading. It does not open a new tab - you are just taken somewhere else. Onto someone else's site or even dead-ended on a PDF. From there, who knows if you ever go back to the original site.
As a marketer, this is such a miss that I needed to address this immediately. Because just this morning as I am reading an article that has lists of resources - all linked - I found myself so far removed from the original article that I did an entirely new Google search.
Your outbound links (some inbound too and I'll dig into that later) should never ever ever ever take the person away from what they are currently reading. Always check the box 'open in a new tab'. You earned that person's eyeballs on your content and you are giving them something of value. So much value, in fact, that they are taking the action and clicking through to the very resource you found for them. Why would you just hand them over?
Now for those inbound links...I would never enable the 'open in a new tab' checkbox for an internal link EXCEPT when it is a lead form flow. Here is the scenario I see most often,
1. I go to the resources section and find something of value
2. I complete the form for the something
3. I will either get a thank you page with a link to download my something or my something will appear right there
4. I find myself trapped on a PDF and need to hit back back back to return to the website
Now we all know that most people don't even read the something they thought was interesting when they saw the landing page. So now you have generated a lead and captured their info, taken them away from your main website and trapped them on a PDF that they have no reason not to abandon so they can return to your website. Any and all PDF assets hosted must must must open in a new tab.
Today do me, your customers, your employees, your investors, the press, your future customers, etc. etc. the favor of checking your site and updating the links to open in a new tab.
TIP: Always remember you earned that person on your site and make sure you are giving them value but also keeping your brand in front of them.